Review Summary: The Starting Line frontman finally finishes the race.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
Word to the wise: if you’re going to make a break for it as a solo musician, then make sure what you’re doing on your own not only stands out, but distances itself from your main band’s work. After all, you wouldn’t want to be seen to create a cheap imitation of what you normally do, right?
Seemingly bored with the world of pop-punk, The Starting Line’s vocalist/bassist Kenny Vasoli has taken this advice and run with it. Where he has ended up is in an area few could have predicted – his new project, Person L, have delivered an LP that has unleashed Vasoli’s aggression, raw-nerve emotion and a refreshing musical eclecticism that it now seems clear The Starting Line simply could not contain.
The voice is still recognisably Vasoli’s that resonates throughout Initial
’s eight tracks. It’s certainly developed from the high-pitched adolescent that sung of the teenage condition – it is now deeper, more textured and capable of a lot more than previously. Take the tumultuous “Born in the Rainy Days of May”, with its throaty howls of “THANKGOD!” in the chorus, or the tortured screams that one finds in “We’re Gonna Run Out of Road” – easily the most violent-sounding, loud and sharply aggressive song Vasoli has put his name to thus far in his career. The booming, splashy drums and knife-edge guitar only help to paint an even darker picture across these album highlights.
One can perceive these sinister, spiky numbers from the album as the long-overdue exposure of Vasoli’s dark side. Never before has he sounded so furious, emotional or just downright invigorated in regards to the words he is vocalising. Even so, Kenny still remains familiar as a vocalist, which strangely works in conjunction with his pensive, emotionally distant lyrics. Yes, he’s matured from Based On A True Story
(sample lyric: “My heart was racing like a sprinter”) significantly, but his emotional problems still remain as constant and confusing as ever before. He touches, at various stages of Initial
, on isolation (“Nobody’s been coming close to you/Mostly ‘cause you don’t want them to” from the abrasive “Help Yourself”); escaping the everyday (“No changes, no signs/Where do you go when you run away?” from slow-burner “Wooden Soldiers”); and the demise of a relationship (“I’m a ball of emotion/You’re a half open book”). Of course, sometimes it demises into complete and utter chaos: “I shot a hole in the boat/We’re gonna run out of road”, spits Vasoli on “We’re Gonna Run Out of Road”.
It appears that the final quarter of Initial
is the only segment of the record that even begins to show any sign of optimism. The appropriately titled couple of “Sunshine” and “Storms” return Kenny to his gentler, pop-oriented side that still doesn’t compromise the passion in the lyrical delivery. The former a dry, slow-motion ballad in which the protagonist is in a state of confusion of his relationship, unsure of its direction, yet still showing admiration to his partner in all their selflessness – “You breathe so they can”, he sighs continuously to the point of it being mantric. The latter revives the age-old comparison of stormy weather representing a dark time, with Vasoli singing at his most harmonious of his survival through said storms. Intricately-arranged drum beats, a swaying chord rhythm and bright keyboards all bring light to a record that is home to both the most upbeat and the most dark work of Vasoli’s career.
Perhaps the most telling of what’s going on in the man’s mind lies in the final lines one hears on Initial
Now it’s letting up
I think it’s gonna let up
May blue skies always brighten your days
So Kenny Vasoli is all over the place. It's for this reason, maybe, that Vasoli's Person L is such a successful experiment – Initial
is an album of diverse, clever and ceaselessly fascinating music from the eyes of a young man who figured that if his teenage years were worth albums of material then surely the next stage in life was worthy of his insight.